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Farm Bill Passes the Senate, Heads to the President's Desk - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Farm Bill Passes the Senate, Heads to the President's Desk

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On Tuesday the U.S. Senate approved the farm bill conference report, meaning Congress has passed a new five-year farm bill that will benefit producers, consumers and the nation. Now that both chambers have passed the legislation, it goes to the President's desk for signature.

North Dakota Senator John Hoeven serves on the Agriculture Committee and was selected by leadership to serve on the Senate-House conference committee that negotiated a final agreement on the bill, paving the way for final passage.

"The farm bill is one of the most important bills Congress passes, with the need to balance the interests of America's tremendous agricultural industry," Hoeven said. "Our bill will ensure that Americans continue to enjoy the most diverse, affordable and high quality food, fuel and fiber products in the world. It's is a win for the nation's agricultural producers, who now have the certainty to plan for the future, a win for the 16 million people working in the industry and a big win for American consumers."

The senator said the final version of the legislation retains a strong focus on enhanced crop insurance. The measure also includes a new Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO), re institutes the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), provides new Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) to help producers through years of repetitive losses and continues the sugar program. Additionally, the final bill includes $23 billion in savings to help reduce the deficit and debt.

North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp is a member of the Agriculture Committee and worked during her first 13 months in office to shape the bill so that it works for North Dakotans.

"Over two years ago, well before I took office, I pledged to work tirelessly to get a long-term Farm Bill passed," said Heitkamp. "While I'm proud to follow through on this promise, that is not why I'm so satisfied today. Finally, we stepped up and gave our hardworking farmers and ranchers the certainty they absolutely deserve to do their jobs.

"In North Dakota, we live and breathe agriculture. It creates jobs, supports our families, boosts our communities, and feeds our kids. And as much as we know how important agriculture is for North Dakota, we also know how important North Dakota's products are to the country and the rest of the world. That's why a Farm Bill is so essential for all of us.

"Working in lockstep with North Dakotans throughout this whole process, I fought to shape this legislation so it will work for our agriculture producers. From enhanced crop insurance, to investments in rural development and biofuel production, to needed livestock disaster assistance, this Farm Bill will benefit so many farmers, ranchers, and consumers throughout our state. 

"The partisanship in Congress has been deeply frustrating, but this Farm Bill has been a bright light. Working together - Republicans and Democrats - we were able to produce a strong Farm Bill that works in our best interests. That's what compromise and cooperation are all about. I hope that bipartisan approach continues as we work on other important issues for North Dakota and our country.

"But our job isn't done. Now, I'll work to make sure this bill is properly implemented, and continue to listen and advocate for North Dakotans, to make sure this law works for them," Heitkamp said.  

MINNESOTA

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar is a member of the Farm Bill conference committee, which crafted the final Farm Bill.  Klobuchar also successfully fought to provide additional support to rural development projects, conservation programs, agricultural research, and the Rural Energy for America (REAP) program and pushed for a strong energy title in the final bill.

"They say good things come to those who wait, and today's strong, bipartisan vote is a long-awaited victory for farmers, ranchers, and rural communities in Minnesota and all across the country," Klobuchar said. "As a member of the Farm Bill conference committee, I worked with Democrats and Republicans in both the House and Senate to shape a final bill that will give our farmers the certainty they need to grow and thrive. This bipartisan legislation will reduce the deficit, strengthen the crop insurance program, eliminate direct payments, boost conservation, and keep nutrition programs strong for Minnesota families."

Minnesota Senator Al Franken says the long-awaited five-year Farm Bill will give Minnesota's farmers, ranchers, and rural communities the certainty they need to plan for the future.

"Farmers all across Minnesota told me repeatedly that they not only wanted a five-year Farm Bill, but they needed one," said Sen. Franken. "With one in five Minnesota jobs connected to agriculture, it's critically important that we finally finished the job.

"This bill isn't perfect, but it was a bipartisan effort that will reform and modernize our agriculture programs, strengthen the farm safety net, and help create jobs and economic vitality in communities across our state. Just as important, the Farm Bill saves money—billions of dollars that can reduce our budget deficit.

"I'm very pleased the bill contains several measures I fought for to help Minnesota's rural communities, including my energy provisions that will create jobs and boost our rural economy. Now it's time for the President to sign this long-awaited legislation into law and help give Minnesota's farmers, ranchers, and rural communities the certainty they need to plan for the future."

The Farm Bill contains several key provisions Sen. Franken authored to help Minnesota. It includes an energy section that Sen. Franken authored with nearly $900 million of funding so that farmers, ranchers, and rural businesses can deploy renewable energy and energy efficient technologies. 

 

PREVIOUS STORY: Farm Bill Passes the House of Representatives

The farm bill is one step closer to becoming law with passage by the House of Representatives on Wednesday with a vote of 251-166. The bill now needs to be passed by the Senate before heading to the President for his signature.

The five-year farm bill was agreed to by the House-Senate conference committee. The Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2013 provides a robust crop insurance program with expanded coverage choices for farmers, saves taxpayers over $23 billion in mandatory federal spending, consolidates programs, and reforms the food stamp program for the first time since 1996. 

Representative Kevin Cramer said the bill is a reflection of a divided Congress and contains both good results and areas of concern for North Dakota agriculture producers. 

"The good news is it provides the certainty farmers and lenders need going into the planting season, saves taxpayers nearly 24 billion dollars, eliminates the outdated direct payment system, and gives farmers expanded crop insurance choices. Like any compromise bill, it's not all good news, and I do have some concerns about making conservation compliance a condition of participation in the crop insurance program. I worry it will add burdensome regulations for farmers and put them at the whim of the unreasonable bureaucracy enforcing them," Cramer stated. "I expect the Senate will join the House in passing the farm bill, and we will have a product that provides certainty to farmers, reduces spending, and bolsters the crop insurance program, which is the hallmark of this very important safety net going forward."

U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp issued the following statement after the House of Representatives passed the bipartisan, compromise Farm Bill. The Senate is expected to take up the legislation in the coming days. 

"Getting the House to pass bipartisan legislation like the Farm Bill - with strong support from both Republicans and Democrats -- is a welcome development," said Heitkamp. "This compromise bill reduces our deficit by more than $16.6 billion and gives North Dakota farmers and ranchers the certainty they deserve to continue feeding the world. I look forward to voting in favor of it, and for the President to sign this long overdue bill into law."  

U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) praised the House for coming together to pass a bipartisan five-year Farm Bill. He also called on the Senate to pass the bill and send it to the President's desk so that Minnesota's farmers, ranchers, and rural communities can get the certainty they need to plan for the future.

"I'm very pleased that the House came together and finally passed a bipartisan five-year Farm Bill," said Sen. Franken. "This bill gives farmers and ranchers badly needed certainty, and it contains several measures I fought for to help Minnesota's rural communities, including my energy provisions that will create jobs and boost our rural economy. Now it's time for the Senate to act quickly, pass the bill, and send it to the President's desk."

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